The end of Mad Men is drawing near, and many fans are trying to figure out Matthew Weiner’s endgame. One fan theory, saying that Don Draper is the legendary D.B. Cooper, has flown around the Internet since Medium published it almost two years ago. Last week’s shot of Don staring longingly out the window only put viewers on even higher alert. But who is D.B. Cooper?
Before I get to Cooper and how he falls into this theory, let’s recap the whereabouts of our favorite characters. Since the move to McCann Erickson, Don and the other partners aren’t living the dream life that they thought they’d have at a new agency. There was no red carpet for these folks — they are now just cogs in a wheel. Don is especially disillusioned, because McCann Erickson head honchos Ferg and Jim assured him that he was their white whale… and then he walked into a meeting with 15 other Creative Directors. “These are just half of us,” Ted Chaough said to Don. Don is quite used to being the white whale in a small pond, and so he ignored the meeting’s speaker, staring out the window at a plane passing behind the Empire State Building. He then took his boxed lunch and bailed, as Don is wont to do.
Now, to D.B. Cooper. As described by New York Magazine, on Nov. 24, 1971, a well-dressed man boarded a Northwest Airlines flight from Portland bound to Seattle. All was hunky dory, until that very same man opened his briefcase and told the flight attendants he had a bomb. This well-dressed man then hijacked the plane, landing it in Seattle and demanding money ($200,000, to be exact), parachutes, and provisions for the crew. Luckily, he let all of the passengers on the plane go.
The man then ordered the plane to take off from Seattle, and, after 45 minutes in the air, the man put on the parachute, strapped the bills to his body, and, somewhere near Portland, jumped out of the rear stairs. The government had sent jets and helicopters to follow the commandeered plane, but no one saw him jump. New York Magazine also detailed how a massive search was held on foot and by air, but no trace of this mystery man (he called himself Dan Cooper, but that was assumed to be an alias) was found. In 1980, a young boy found the marked bills given to Cooper in a shallow hole near the Columbia River outside Portland, but investigators once again came up empty handed.
It’s a great story — and the only unsolved flight hijacking ever — but I sincerely doubt that this is what Mad Men has been building towards. Matthew Weiner isn’t exactly the king of the tied-in-a-bow ending, so Don Draper eventually giving up everything to become D.B. Cooper is just a bit too easy, in my book. Weiner doesn’t give into fans' whims, though he may call attention to them. Remember when we were all convinced that Megan would meet the same grisly fate as the late actress Sharon Tate? Weiner played with viewers, dressing Megan in a shirt similar to Tate’s, but Megan is still alive and well.
Last week’s Don-with-the-airplane shot is likely nothing more than another tongue-in-cheek reference given by Mad Men's creator, and not an actual clue into the show’s conclusion.
Images: AMC; Giphy (2)